Cricket: Winds of Change
Though hockey is our national game, but cricket is the most popular sports in Pakistan and people of all age from children to youth as also senior citizens love watch cricket match. Their passion of the game of cricket known no bounds and in mega events like the cricket World Cup, they want nothing short of victory for the national team.
They pray for their success and spend even a lot of money on buying tickets and rushing to cricket venues to see their national cricket heroes at play on the ground.
The same zeal and fervor was seen during the cricket World Cup 2023 in which the entire nation was pinning high hopes on the national team members, but all their hopes were dashed to ground as the Green Shirts failed to deliver on the given day.
In fact, our team lived up to its reputation of being unpredictable and the same happened in this mega cricket event as well.
Loss and win are part of the game, but the way our team wins or loses is at times extremely unpredictable. They either snatch victory from the jaw of the opponent team or present the victory to them on a platter.
This extreme pattern has been going for decades.
And more lamentable is the fact that whenever a team loses, the entire blame is put on the team captain. However, in case of victory, every team member claim the triumph. The same has happened to our team in the post-World Cup scenario.
What happened to the national cricket team out of the World Cup changed the whole scenario. Babar Azam bid farewell to captaincy of all three formats, Shan Masood case is beforeus, Shaheen Afridi is new T20 captain, Mohammad Hafeez appointed as team director and portfolio of coaching staff including Mickey Arthur has been changed.
A new captain is currently not appointed for the ODI format, one of the possible reasons being that the national team has not played in an ODI for nearly a year.
During the mega event itself, reports of off-field fights and the end of Babar Azam's four-year captaincy reign were circulating. Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had resigned after the issue of the British company came to light. Bowling coach also resigned a few days ago, now Babar Azam has also resigned from his duties.
Under his leadership, the T20 and ODI teams were at the top of the ICC rankings, so we raised a lot of questions about his style of leadership in the World Cup. Every fan was disappointed with the way, he took on the field decisions, but anyway, the end result is the extreme disappointment.
His own performance was also quite disappointing. He will be remembered as a conservative captain who performed well with the bat as a captain but failed to be aggressive in decisive situations.
His decisions at times backfired at times on the field.
The new captains Shaan Masood and Shaheen Afridi, who will be replaced by him, do not have the experience of leading the team at the international level, but they have enough experience to lead the domestic and T20 teams.
Time will tell how they perform as captains of the team because play and leading a time are two different jobs.
Captaincy needs a lot of leadership qualities.
Shaan Masood will face a tough test as soon as he takes over as the national team will travel to Australia for a three-Test series where he has suffered a back-to-back failure in the last 14 Tests after Shaheen Afridi's absence from the national team in New Zealand. So this aspect also needs to be taken notice of.
It may be mentioned here that the much-trumpeted T20 series will be played for the first time under the leadership.
It is also to be recalled here that under the leadership of Shaheen Afridi, Lahore Qalandar won the title of champion. In the new scenario, Mohammad Hafeez has emerged as a powerful figure. So a lot of changes have taken places on the cricket horizon.
The world cup tournament is the biggest event in international cricket which is held every four years.
So far 12 tournaments have been played and currently the 13th world cup is being played in India. Australia is the most successful team so far.
It was the winner five times, West Indies and India twice while Pakistan and Sri Lanka were world champions once each.
If you look at its 48-year history, every team seems to go through ups and downs. A similar situation has emerged with regard to Pakistan in the World Cup, where it was eliminated from the tournament without playing the semi-finals.
Although this is not the first occasion of this kind, such a disappointing performance is not seen before.
After winning against New Zealand in the last match, the Pakistani team got a new lease of life in the tournament in which they defeated England to reach the semi-finals.
Three matches were to be won due to the high run rate, but in the 9th match, they were defeated by England by 93 runs. This is Babar XI's fifth defeat in the entire tournament, whose winners include Afghanistan.
The national team won only 4 out of 9 matches and its run rate was 0.19%. Millions of Pakistani fans and famous ex-players have questioned this performance.
Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram and former PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja have criticized the team management but analysts say that winning and losing is part of the game and there is no doubt that cricket is in the grass roots of Pakistan. including where the best cricket is played from the streets to the playgrounds, but only good management can keep it bright and shining on the global horizon.
However, with a lot of changes that have taken place on the cricket horizon in the wake of team’s failure in the World Cup, one can only follow a ‘wait and see’ approach. It remains to be seen whether the changes were required or not.
Published in The Daily National Courier, November, 21 2023